random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Software

Windows on Inactivity

Here’s a little tip for anyone like me still using Windows Vista who’s having trouble with the system logging/locking you out after a certain period of inactivity (usually 5 or 10 minutes). The two most common culprits for this are the screensaver settings or possible power saving options, both accessible from within the Control Panel. However, what isn’t obvious and what drove me mad trying to find, is that even if you have None selected as your screensaver of choice, it appears Windows still sees fit to still log the user out after the allotted period of time. This despite the fact that the On resume, require logon checkbox is greyed out.

After much headscratching and searching through forums, I eventually discovered that you can prevent Windows automatically presenting you with the login screen after a few minutes of inactivity by reenabling the screensaver, providing an extraordinarily large number and unchecking the On resume, require logon checkbox. No more interrupted video viewing!

WordPress 2.2 Database Character Sets

For those upgrading their WordPress powered blogs to 2.2, just a word of warning regarding the new character encoding options available in the wp-config.php file.

The standard file should have a section which reads:

// ** MySQL settings ** //
define('DB_NAME', dbname// The name of the database
define('DB_USER', 'dbuser'); // Your MySQL username
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'dbpassword'); // ...and password
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
define('WP_HOME', 'http://www.yourblog.com/');
define('WP_SITEURL', 'http://www.yourblog.com/');
define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
define('DB_COLLATE', 'utf8');

Note the new options added at the bottom regarding the codepage used in the blog’s database. If these are set incorrectly they may make your blog unreadable, else prevent special characters from appearing correctly. I personally found that commenting these two lines out left the blog functioning as before, but for people wishing to change the codepage of their database, WordPress has a rough guide available, originally written for the beta testers.

Problem Installing Altiris SVS

After reading a review over at freewaregenius.com, I thought I’d check out this neat little program, free for personal use. It offers a way to install programs as a ‘layer’ on your system, transparently noting all changes and additions made in the installation, and enabling you to turn this layer on or off, or seamlessly delete it without worry. Although not limited to creating layers for installations, this would seem the perfect solution for people who wish to try out different versions of a software package without them interfering with one another, or simply test out some software without the hastle of worrying if its installer left anything behind.

However, I came across a problem during the installation that seems, ironically, to be caused by things being left behind. The installer would fail and blurt:

There are file operations pending on this machine. The machine should be restarted, and setup can be run again.

Whilst a reboot should fix the problem, this was not the case for me. Your natural recourse to a problem like this might be to delete everything in your C:\Documents and Settings\your username\Local Settings\Temp folder, as detailed here (in Chinese), however this brought no joy. Instead, some erroneous registry entry was to blame. ((Note that these entries are probably only erroneous if they are still present after restarting Windows. Ensure this is the case.)) The solution is to delete the entries and restart, thus:

  1. Click Start > Run… and then type regedit.
  2. Find the following branch in the registry HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager.
  3. Double-click the PendingFileRenameOperations entry.
  4. Delete any entries and click OK.
  5. Close the registry editor and restart the computer.
  6. Run the installer again.

If this does not work, another solution would be to export the above registry branch, delete the PendingFileRenameOperations registry entry altogether, run the installer, and then reimport the saved file.

A Few Funky Firefox Plugins

Firefox LogoHappily, one of the best things about the Mozilla Foundation’s flagship browser Firefox, is the sheer breadth of additional functionality provided by an active development community in the form of addons or plugins. There’s a great range in terms of ease-of-use, function and stability, some which are so useful as to almost warrant standard inclusion, others merely worth playing with from time to time. It should be noted of course that adding plugins can cause problems with Firefox’s stability and security, though many of those listed are fairly mature projects and should not pose much of a risk. Here are a few I’ve dabbled with from time to time:

Adblock or Adblock Plus – There’s fair advertising, and then there’s frankly unreasonable advertising. I can see the merits of allowing sites to earn funding through the placement of adverts related to their products, whether they come from Google or elsewhere, but some web adverts go too far. The popup plague of yesteryear might have been largely beaten back, but that doesn’t prevent wiley coders from placing wholly obtrusive flash adverts in every nook they can find. Unfortunately their actions can only serve to give web advertising a bad reputation, and drive people to finding ways of blocking adverts wholesale, obtrusive or otherwise. Of course there will always be a small minority of web users who cannot stand to see web adverts in any form, but for their purposes, and the folks seeking refuge from the advertising bombardment, Adblock/Adblock Plus will fulfil their every need.

To tell the truth, the history of these two projects confuses me, save to say that at one time or another one or both of these plugins has been under development. As I understand the current situation, Adblock Plus is the more highly recommended, as it’s more heavily featured, comes with some default filters to subscribe to which can get rid of most adverts with the minimum of fuss for the end user, and has a much reduced resource footprint to boot (pardon the pun).

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